Game of Thrones‘ big, much-hyped battle against the Army of the Dead has come and gone, and we gotta be honest, we were expecting more.
More deaths, more twists, more of our own screaming. Arya’s big Night King-killing moment there at the end was a dream, but it felt like it was a dream that should have come a little later, after a little more devastation had been wrought and a little more explanation had been given. What was the Night King’s whole deal? We now may never know.
What we do know is that a surprisingly small number of important characters perished in the fight against the zombies, and a number of important but honestly expendable characters remain, likely or hopefully headed towards something bigger.
Here in the aftermath of that slightly deadly zombie battle, it feels right to take a moment to look back on the show’s biggest, most important and influential deaths to date and take stock of where we’ve been and where we still have to go in only three more episodes.
It’s very, very, definitely likely that this list will change by the time the show says goodbye for good, but for now, here are the 25 most important deaths from seven and a half seasons of Game of Thrones.
25. Jorah Mormont (Season 8)
Jorah died as, let’s face it, he was always going to: protecting Daenerys Targaryen. He made it through a whole bunch of stabbing, but died just after the Night King did in the Battle of Winterfell. How this death will affect Dany has yet to be seen, but this will be one of her biggest losses in a long time, up there with her dragon and her husband.
24. Theon Greyjoy (Season 8)
Theon fought valiantly until the end, and essentially sacrificed himself for one last futile attempt to keep the Night King away from Bran. A good man indeed, though it’s not like anyone thought Theon would make it out of this whole thing alive.
23. Viserion (Season 7/8)
Dany’s dragon died at the end of season seven, giving the Night King exactly the zombie weapon he needed to get past the wall, and giving Dany all the evidence she needed that this war against the dead was really, really real. The zombie ice dragon died once again along with the Night King during the Battle of Winterfell.
22. Margaery, The High Sparrow and More (Season 6)
With just a bit of wildfire, Cersei got rid of all her problems at once. Bye, High Sparrow. Bye, Queen Margaery. Bye, trial. Tommen even killed himself over it, so yeah she lost her son, but she got to be the queen.
21. Jon Snow (Season 5)
Jon Snow is alive now and one of the most important characters on the show (though sometimes we question that), but once upon a time his death, due to the betrayal of his fellow Night’s Watchmen, was all we could talk about. Then Melisandre brought him back to life with some of her wacky magic, and we’re all still waiting for that to pay off. Jon’s life? Important. Jon’s death? Not all that important yet.
20. Robb Stark (Season 3)
Remember when it was Robb, and not Jon Snow, who was hailed as the King in the North? After the death of Ned, Robb was the man of the Winterfell house. After the death of Robb, the family fell into even more chaos for a few years.
19. Beric Dondarrion (Season 8)
Dying is Beric’s whole thing, as he’s done it multiple times and was always revived by Thoros. Then, Thoros died, leaving Beric one last chance to fulfill whatever his purpose was. It turned out that purpose was to save Arya Stark from wights so she could go on to kill the Night King. He died protecting her, and Melisandre even confirmed his job was done.
18. Lady Olenna Tyrell (Season 7)
“Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me.” Jaime may have been there to poison her, but Lady Olenna got the last word as she informed him that it was she who poisoned his son Joffrey. Forever a badass.
17. Lady Catelyn Stark (Season 3)
Catelyn died in the devastating Red Wedding, after watching her son Robb die right in front of her, and after committing one last stand of defiance by killing Walder Frey’s young wife before her throat was slit. But at least Catelyn’s determination to protect her family lived on long after she did, thanks mostly to Brienne of Tarth.
Courtesy of HBO
16. Lyanna Mormont (Season 8)
Badass Lady Lyanna Mormont was never going to go out without a fight. She demanded to be on the battlefield in the battle against the army of the dead, and ended up being crushed to death by a giant wight. But before she was totally crushed, she also managed to stab the wight in the eye, taking him down with her. It was the first major casualty of the Battle of Winterfell, and it was a sad but fitting end for an incredible character.
15. Viserys Targaryen (Season 1)
Before she was the dragon-riding khaleesi we know her to be now, Daenerys was bossed around by her jerk of a brother, Viserys, who kept trying to sell her in exchange for power. He got real jealous of how popular Dany was among the Dothraki, and demanded that Khal Drogo give him an army so he can go take the throne in the Seven Kingdoms. Drogo gave him a “golden crown” by pouring molten gold over his head, freeing Dany and giving us the series’ first major (and very satisfying) death.
14. Robert Baratheon (Season 1)
In the grand scheme of things Robert was kinda whatever, but his death did start this whole thing. Plus, this was our first indication that Cersei’s a true madwoman who’s not averse to arranging her husband’s death to protect the fact that she’s been sleeping with and having multiple children with her own brother.
13. Ygritte (Season 4)
Jon Snow’s first love, a wildling named Ygritte, changed his mind about just about everything. She died in a wildling vs. Night’s Watch fight, and Jon was forever changed. (As was Kit Harington, who later married Rose Leslie.)
12. The Three-Eyed Raven (Season 6)
This guy had to die, at the hand of the Night King, so Bran could become him and take over being the creepiest person in the Seven Kingdoms.
11. Shireen Baratheon (Season 5)
Shireen was sacrificed to the Lord of Light by Melisandre, and even though she later brought Jon Snow back to life, she had lost all good will anyone might have been able to muster for her.
10. Joffrey Baratheon (Season 4)
Joffrey was the first of the three Baratheon children (who were actually Lannisters, but whatevs) to die, and it was one of the most satisfying deaths the show has ever had. It started a bit of a war between the Lannisters and Tyrion, who was tried for Joffrey’s murder. However, it turns out Joffrey’s wine was poisoned by another meme-able foe by the name of Olenna Tyrell.
9. Ramsay Bolton (Season 6)
Sansa got her revenge on her rapist and abuser when she fed him to his own hungry hounds, freeing her and beginning her transformation into one of the most unexpectedly formidable figures in Westeros.
Courtesy of HBO
8. Melisandre (Season 8)
Melisandre didn’t die in battle, but when the Battle of Winterfell was over, she took off the necklace keeping her alive and young and died on her own terms, apparently having fulfilled her calling. The fact that she so willingly died after what we can only assume is a thousand years or so hopefully means her services are no longer needed in these final few episodes. Whether that’s a good or bad thing remains to be seen.
7. Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Season 7)
Sansa finally teaming up with Arya at the end of season 7 to take down Littlefinger was one of the more satisfying arcs of the whole series, and another major moment in Sansa’s transformation. And he really, really deserved that trial and execution after all the bulls–t he put her through!
6. Tywin Lannister (Season 4)
We all knew Tywin Lannister was the real power in Westeros, but no one was expecting Tyrion to use his first moments after Jaime freed him from prison to get some revenge. First he killed his prostitute friend/love Shae, who he found waiting in Tywin’s bed. Then, he pointed his crossbow right at Tywin, who was sitting on the toilet. Bye bye, most powerful man in town. Hello to the Tyrion we all now know and love (after a few years).
5. Tommen Baratheon (Season 6)
Tommen took on the title of king after Joffrey’s death, and also married Joffrey’s wife Margaery. But when he learned that Margaery had died in an explosion (orchestrated by his own mother), he committed suicide by throwing himself out a window. Cersei’s brutality killed her own son, and left her as the new queen.
4. Khal Drogo (Season 1)
Without the death of her sun and stars, Daenerys Targaryen would likely never have become the ruthless dragon-riding queen she is today, and that would be a damn shame.
3. Hodor (Season 6)
This wasn’t just the death of a beloved character. It was a shocking moment in the history of the show, and for once, not (just) because it was a brutal death. First of all, it explained how Hodor became Hodor, a guy who only ever said “Hodor.” Second of all, it introduced the crazy timey wimey concept of the future affecting the past. That concept has yet to pay off other than explaining Hodor, but it was a wild and heartbreaking twist that honestly could turn out to be one of the more important deaths of the whole show.
2. Ned Stark (Season 1)
Ned Stark’s death wasn’t just an important moment in show, but it was a major moment for fans who weren’t used to hero characters dying in season one. Joffrey demanded Ned’s execution for treason back in season one, tearing the Stark family apart for the next six seasons and proving that this show was not messing around.
Courtesy of HBO
1. The Night King (Season 8)
We don’t yet know if there will be any lasting ramifications of the death of this evil dude, but we know that when he died, thanks to a quick dagger trick by Arya, all of the zombies died with him. He was the biggest external threat in Westeros, and now the Game of Thrones can really begin.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.
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